If You Can’t Make a Good Record, Why Make Any Record At All?

Steely Dan – Can’t Buy A Thrill


Speakers Corner Debunked

This has to be one of the worst sounding versions ever pressed. You think the average ABC or MCA pressing is opaque, flat and lifeless, not to mention compromised at both ends of the frequency spectrum? You ain’t heard nothin’ yet!

As bad as the typical copy of this album is, the Speakers Corner Heavy Vinyl is even worse, with not a single redeeming quality to its credit. If this is what passes for an Audiophile Record these days, and it is, it’s just one more nail in the coffin for Heavy Vinyl.

But that’s not the half of it. Go to Acoustic Sounds’ website and read all the positive customer reviews — they love it! Is there any heavy vinyl pressing on the planet that a sizable contingent of audiophiles won’t say something nice about, no matter how bad it sounds? I can’t think of one. (more…)

Electric Light Orchestra – On the Third Day


  • This outstanding copy of the band’s third studio album boasts solid Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER from start to finish
  • This domestic LP is proof that the master tape used to cut the album in 1973 was right here in the good old U.S. of A.
  • “Electric Light Orchestra’s third album showed a marked advancement, with a fuller, more cohesive sound from the band as a whole and major improvements in Jeff Lynne’s singing and songwriting.”
  • “The ELO’s blending of rock drums, pop violins, a semiclassical feel in the sweep of these same violins, the midrange colors of the cello, and a vocal blend that reminds one of the Beatles in their sophisticated studio days, makes up all the key elements in their music.”

Once you’ve played a good domestic pressing, it’s obvious that the Brit vinyl is made from sub-generation copy tapes. The imports make it sound like someone threw a blanket over your speakers.

We know this because we had a bunch of them cleaned up for our first big shootout in 2010 and they all sucked. We always buy Electric Light Orchestra records on import vinyl; those are the ones that sound the best, the domestic pressings time and again sounding as though they were mastered from dub tapes.

But On The Third Day is proof that this is not always the case, just as Siren proves that the best Roxy Music albums are not always British. Live and learn I guess. (more…)

Lionel Richie – Dancing on the Ceiling


  • Lionel Richie’s third album makes its Hot Stamper debut here with STUNNING Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) sound or close to it throughout – exceptionally quiet vinyl for the most part too
  • This copy has real depth to the soundfield; full-bodied, present vocals; plenty of bottom end weight; and lovely analog warmth
  • Filled with quintessential Richie favorites, including Say You, Say Me, Love Will Conquer All, and of course, the title track
  • 4 stars: “…He adds a bit more dance to this album, and while the grooves are funkier than anything since the Commodores… Dancing on the Ceiling is a solid, enjoyable affair…”


George Benson – White Rabbit


  • You’ll find SUPERB nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sound on both sides of this CTI pressing of Benson’s Must Own Masterpiece – just shy of our Shootout Winner – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Open and transparent throughout, with wonderfully full-bodied guitars, solid bass and huge amounts of swingin’ jazz energy
  • Superb engineering by Rudy Van Gelder – White Rabbit features jazz legends Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, Billy Cobham, Airto, and more
  • 4 stars: “For George Benson’s second CTI project, producer Creed Taylor and arranger Don Sebesky successfully place the guitarist in a Spanish-flavored setting full of flamenco flourishes, brass fanfares, moody woodwinds and such… In this prime sample of the CTI idiom, everyone wins.”


Bruce Springsteen – Born To Run – Our Shootout Winner from 2010


For the first time ever on our site, here’s BORN TO RUN available in Hot Stamper form with a very good side one and a side two that’s as good as we ever expect to hear! It shouldn’t be too hard to figure out why we’ve never put up a Hot copy before: most copies of this album sounds just plain awful, a fact that will not surprise any of you who have tried to find a good one.

I wish I could tell you that this record sounded as good as After The Gold Rush or Sgt. Pepper’s, but it just ain’t so. Mindblowing sound is simply not in the cards for this album, I’m sorry to report. The Boss and his crew are known for their great songs, not the sound of their recordings. There are better copies and worse copies of course, but none of them are going to become the kind of record you’d demo your stereo with.

That said, if you’re a fan of this album, I’m betting you’ve never heard it sound this good. We played a ton of copies — White Label Promos, originals, later pressings — and didn’t hear very many that were in the ballpark with this one, particularly on side two.

Side one is super transparent with a punchy bottom end. Springsteen’s vocals sounds JUST RIGHT — textured and breathy with real immediacy. Like nearly every copy we’ve ever heard, the top end isn’t quite what we’d like it to be. Still, the sound was enjoyable enough to earn a grade between A+ and A++.

Side two was much better. In fact, we don’t think you could find one that sounds any better! Compared to the average copy there’s less grit, less edge and more energy. The bottom end is strong and the brass actually sounds good. We gave this side our top grade of A+++ because it did exactly what we needed it to do for this music — it just plain ROCKED.

As I’ve said, the typical pressing is an absolute sonic nightmare. Gritty, grainy, edgy and dull, with recessed vocals and a lightweight bottom end. I was not blown away by even the best copies, but at least I could appreciate the music. I’m pretty sure that’s all we can ask for when it comes to The Boss on vinyl. (more…)

John Fogerty – Eye Of The Zombie


  • Good sound throughout with both sides earning Shootout Winning Triple Plus (A+++) grades or close to them
  • Don’t waste your money on whatever dead-as-a-doornail Heavy Vinyl record they’re making these days – if you want to hear the Tubey Magic, size and energy of Fogerty’s second solo album, a vintage ’80s pressing like this one is the only way to go
  • Exceptionally quiet vinyl with both sides playing Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus
  • John’s last album for over a decade and while not quite as good as Centerfield, there’s still some excellent tracks here, such as “Change in the Weather” and “Knockin on Your Door”


Neil Young – After the Gold Rush – Listening in Depth

More Neil Young

More on After the Gold Rush


Folks, a Hot Stamper collection of the Greatest Records of All Time would not be complete without a knockout copy of After the Gold Rush. That’s why it’s been a Better Records All Time Top Ten Rock Title right from the start. We built our reputation on finding Demo Disc Quality recordings like this. Who else can offer you a copy of the album that delivers this kind of ANALOG MAGIC?

Side One

Tell Me Why

Just listen to those Tubey Magical acoustic guitars. You know right away that you’re about to have a sublime musical experience. Nothing sounds that way but analog. (more…)

Saint-Saens – Symphony No. 3 (“Organ”) / Fremaux


  • For the first time in three years, one of Saint-Saens’ greatest masterpieces returns to Better Records with truly superb nearly Triple Plus (A++ to A+++) sound on both sides – just shy of our Shootout Winner – exceptionally QUIET vinyl too, the quietest copy to ever hit the site
  • Clear and transparent and natural – your ability to suspend disbelief requires practically no effort at all
  • What this copy did better than practically any other was show us just how rich, smooth and Tubey Magical 1973 EMI sound could be
  • “The whole work is a magnificent and fantastical symphonic machine that’s an apotheosis of the orchestral technology of the late 19th century.”


Another Audio Myth Exploded – Large Tulips, Small Tulips – What Do Tulips Have to Do with Anything?

Here are more records with the potential to sound better

on certain reissue pressings compared to the originals


The Large Tulip early pressings are the best on this record, right?

Nope. It’s just another Record Myth, as explained in the commentary for our recent Hot Stamper 2-pack. That pair of pressings was all the proof we required to back up our contention that either label can be the best on this classic DG recording. Original is better? Again, not so much. Original can be better fits more with our experience.

To pull off this kind of Mind Boggling sound from start to finish we combined an amazing side one on the Large Tulips label with an amazing side two on the Small Tulips label. And what a finish — side two earned a grade of A+++, being a full step above even our hottest other side two, and we played a lot of copies, more than a dozen in fact. (more…)